GV498      Half Unit

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Paul Apostolidis


This course is available on the MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe, MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe (LSE & Sciences Po), MSc in International Migration and Public Policy and MSc in Political Theory. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is capped at two groups. The deadline for applications is 17:00 on Tuesday 1 October 2019. You will be informed of the outcome by 17:00 on Wednesday 2 October 2019.

Course content

This seminar explores political-theoretical questions associated with contemporary debates about multiculturalism. First, we confront normative issues concerning what it means for a state and its citizens to give “recognition” to particular cultures in societies with diverse cultural attachments and dominant cultural tendencies. On what principles of freedom, equality, or moral duty can group demands for cultural recognition be justified? What questionable assumptions about the meaning of “culture” might arguments regarding cultural recognition involve and what political implications follow from probing these assumptions? Next, we place these normative problems in a wider context by considering how cultural activities are entangled with systems of social domination. Texts in this phase combine political theory with empirical studies of indigenous, racial/ethnic minority, and women’s religious politics. How might demands for social justice and pluralistic cultural expression mutually reinforce or conflict with one another? What confluences and tensions exist between liberal principles invoked in debates about multiculturalism and subaltern groups’ struggles for power through cultural action? How has imperial power shaped the composition of cultural identities, and how should frictions between multiculturalist projects and anti-imperial struggles be navigated?


20 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students are invited to write one 1500 word formative essay, due no later than week 8.

Indicative reading

Charles Taylor, “The Politics of Recognition”; Will Kymlicka, “Multicultural Citizenship”; Iris Marion Young, “Justice and the Politics of Difference”; Cristina Beltrán, “The Trouble with Unity”; Saba Mahmood, “Politics of Piety”; Glenn Coulthard, “Red Skin, White Masks”


Essay (100%, 5000 words) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 7.1
Merit 75
Pass 14.3
Fail 3.6

Teachers' comment

Student response to this seminar-style course has been very positive, though students frequently request the inclusion of lectures. Because this is a postgraduate political theory course, however, there are strong pedagogical reasons for conducting it as a seminar--which also conforms to best practice at top research universities in the US and elsewhere. I do not lecture because I hope to create an egalitarian environment for intense, fruitful discussion.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2018/19: 27

Average class size 2018/19: 14

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills